ST. LOUIS — Schnucks announced Thursday morning that the company wrote a letter to an alderwoman regarding health and safety concerns at their South City location on South Grand Boulevard.
Jed Penney, Associate Gen. Counsel and Head of Govt. Relations, sent Alderwoman Megan Green of the 15th Ward information about the store's struggle to "provide a safe and comfortable shopping experience."
The company described ongoing issues at the store, the actions they took and asked for action by the government due to community concerns.
The store, located at 3430 S. Grand, describes issues and concerns over providing safety and comfort to its customers. Penney says the "growing number of issues related to a rise of unhoused and transient people are impacting the long-term viability of area businesses, including Schnucks." Many businesses have closed as a result of these issues, according to Penney in the letter.
Schnucks in South City lists out steps they are taking as a business to address the problems and support different businesses.
The location employs two full-time armed security guards and a full-time off-duty police officer. The letter claims they have spent more than $500,000 for security concerns and measures at that location alone.
The company is taking two additional actions to help these concerns.
First, they are installing additional fencing along the sidewalks of their property. They hope that the fencing will deter those lingering and loitering away from the location.
Secondly, Schnucks will be partnering with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police on their 911 Diversion Program. Schnucks, police and the Behavioral Health Response will work together to train store management to "identify circumstances where mental health, substance abuse and/or chronic homelessness is or may be at the root cause of the behavioral issue for which Schnucks would ordinarily contact police," according to the letter.
Schnucks management will call the Behavioral Health Response if the situation were to occur to get the proper help and services to the individual.
Penney writes that Schnucks will be taking action immediately at the South City store.
The letter calls for Alderwoman Green to collaborate with Schnucks with a list of three requests to address the issues at their location.
The first action they are requesting is monthly street sweeping. The letter addresses that the City of St. Louis government website claims it should be done on a monthly basis. But, the store has not seen this in their area.
Secondly, they are asking for additional trash cans and services near their store. They claim the bus stops along Grand Avenue overflow greatly with trash and are not picked up enough.
"If funding is a concern, we suggest ARPA funds be considered as a source for this effort," Penney writes.
Their final request asks for temporary enforcement of nuisance crime ordinances paired with the City Prosecutor Diversion Program. They call for the City to enable police to enforce nuisance ordinances in the area for one month. This would include trespassing, public urination, public intoxication, loitering and more.
They ask that the City uses additional ARPA funds to use the Behavioral Health Response to assist individuals instead of jail sentences for the ordinances. Schnucks hopes they if this is successful that the City will extend the program and funding for BHR.
The letter says, "Schnucks will be ready to hire individuals who make it through an approved program when they are ready to return to the workforce."
Schnucks also addressed in the letter a proposal to extend the existing South Grand Community Improvement District (CID), which was not supported in the end. The company addressed that these were additional actions they considered to help their store but gave reasons on why they did not support the proposal.
The proposal involved a sales tax to pay for street improvements, additional street sweeping and refuse maintenance services along South Grand Avenue. There were two reasons why they decided against it.
The first is food inflation. Schnucks recognizes that food inflation is at an all-time high and it is "simply not the time to compound additional food costs to our customers," according to the letter. The South City store explains they must take into consideration the costs they have from security services and maintenance costs and be mindful of the rising costs for their customers as well.
The letter also addresses that extending CID could result in additional cleaning, but they believe it does not address the issues the area is facing currently.
"It is our position that addressing the problem goes beyond additional cleaning, and we would encourage the City to tap into funds available to address these issues, rather than institute an additional tax on citizens who are buying their needed groceries for their families," Penney said in the letter.
They included many other government officials including Mayor Tishaura Jones, Director of Public Safety Dr. Daniel Isom, and Director of Streets Betherny Williams.
Green says joining the Community Improvement District would alleviate most of these problems.
“The property is already fenced. To me, it would make much more sense if they could contribute $10,000-$15,000 per year into a community improvement district along with all of the neighboring businesses, so that we can get traffic calming measures in place. We can get regular trash pick-up and cleaning in place and we can hire a part-time social worker,” Alderwoman Megan Green said.